Sometimes in a long interview there’s a throwaway line that means so much. Transcribing the thoughts of Sheffield Wednesday’s owner and chairman, I didn’t notice it at first.
Then it stared back at me from the page. The words came in the context of takeover speculation and whether Milan Mandaric would be at the helm next season. And these were the words: “I hope I am anyway.” I suggest they are revealing of a man who has taken Sheffield Wednesday to his heart. Here they are in context: “Assuming I’m still here in the summer, I think whoever is here – and I hope I am anyway – needs to see what we’ve done right, which players have contributed and keep those...”
You wonder if the thrust of that sentence was elsewhere. Whether in partnership or as initial front man for a new regime, Mandaric still has yearning personal ambitions for the club. It will take a very serious, well funded interest to deflect from those.
And here’s another revelation in passing, an admission that Wednesday may have been wrong to part with Chris O’Grady (rumoured to be a bone of contention between the chairman and former boss Gary Megson).
It came up during a lament on the absence of saleable assets in the first team squad, meaning Dave Jones had only O’Grady to trade when it came to a burst of reshuffling last season.
“The only player we sold was Chris O’Grady. I’m not quite sure it was the right decision but I’m here to support my managers and we got our money back.”
Personally, I thought that O’Grady should have had the appreciation he’s had at Barnsley where he’s top scorer. But Mandaric is open and willing to admit mistakes. There is a quality in that and an understanding, too, of his view that fee-paying signings have not worked out in his time: “I’ve been a bit discouraged on that.”
The vision now is for a younger team with players rising to value. Mandaric puts it this way: “We’re looking for quality on top of what we have... to see if we can get Antonio and Maghoma back to form and fitness. . .and then with Lee and Helan, Palmer and Lavery it’s a very young team. In order to get out of this league you must have energy and hunger. Some of us make a mistake when we bring in an experienced player from the Premiership. If he’s not hungry he’s not going to help you.”